1. Sleepovers aren’t like sleepovers anymore. Not like the ones you were used to while growing up, at least. There aren’t rules now, there aren’t curfews; no mothers telling you that all boys need to leave by midnight or that your bedroom door needs to stay open, and no that doesn’t mean cracked, it means wide open so no funny business happens. You’re in college now, you’re practically grown up, so if you find yourself hanging out in his room, watching raunchy Netflix comedies until you feel his fingers trailing up your thigh, well… nobody here is going to give you a ten-minute warning at 11:50. You’re not Cinderella. Even if he makes you feel like a princess while you’re wearing that thrift-store dress and those combat boots.
2. You probably didn’t intend to stay here all night. Maybe the thought flickered once (or twice) in the back of your mind, even if you told yourself over and over and over that you’d leave before the sun rose. But now your eyes are slowly opening, the sunlight is bleeding in, and you’re cocooned in sheets that don’t smell like yours. Reach for your phone. Check the time. Make sure you have some clothes on before loudly coughing and stretching so that he wakes up.
3. Always have your toothbrush with you. Nothing else really matters. The people on the street you’ll see during your walk home won’t be the same ones who saw you in that dress last night, so don’t worry yourself about not having a change of clothes. Your hair’s already a wreck, matted down or flipping in odd directions in the spots where the sweat clung to it last night, and he probably doesn’t own mousse or hair elastics, so your outfit’s not going to make any difference now. Just tip-toe over to the bathroom, squeeze some of his roommate’s toothpaste onto your toothbrush (or your finger if you’re desperate), and let that clean mint flavor coat your teeth and your tongue, while you brush off the taste of PBRs and Doritos and whatever else you swallowed last night.
4. Tell him you have to get ready for work, or that you have lunch plans, or that your roommate got kidnapped by drug lords, whether any of this is true or not. If you’re the one who ‘has to go,’ even if it’s really just to stumble home and watch TV in your underwear by yourself, it will beat him to the punch of making up some feeble excuse of his own, and you won’t feel like you’re getting kicked out.
5. Avoid eye contact with anybody on the street. Just keep your sights pointed down, fixated on your phone, despite its drained battery since you forgot your phone charger, and use the last fifteen percent to busily scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or some other redundant stream, so nobody sees the worn-down makeup smudged around your eyes or the sheen of sweat on your forehead that hasn’t yet been doused in a morning facial cleanser. This will also help you against accidentally locking eyes with someone you actually know, therefore avoiding an awkward conversation about why you’re in this part of town first thing in the morning.
6. Energy drink companies know what you did last night. They will wait in their gigantic, embellished trucks, parked strategically along sidewalks of your route back home, as they cheerfully offer you free cans of carbonated guarana with flavors like Shock-Therapy Strawberry and Crackhead Coffee, but don’t be tempted. Once you pop that lid and the hiss of bubbles pierces the air, they will mention the catch: an unattractive close-up photograph of your unwashed face, Maybelline smears and all, holding the drink like it’s your only vice, ready to be uploaded to their online gallery. Come on, now, these drinks were invented for the Walk of Shame. To them it isn’t exploitation, it’s publicity.
7. When you finally make it back to your place, whether or not you’re charged up on Walk-Of-Shame-Watermelon, your roommates will probably already have figured it out, so feel free to shower for as long as you want. They know you’re rinsing away the long night spent with the roommate of that guy in your rhetoric class who hosted the Halloween party, the one who talked to you for hours about old horror movies and said he liked your costume, and they’ll assume it went well since you went there more than twelve hours ago, but don’t tell them about it just yet. (Or ever, if they’re the judgmental type.) You still haven’t gotten any real sleep yet, so just towel-dry your hair quickly then stumble into your bedroom and crash on that little twin sized bed that now seems comfier than ever, untouched and still looking exactly as it did when you made it yesterday morning.